There was a time when the view of Scottie Barnes was from a long-term perspective.

Potential franchise cornerstone. The new Kawhi Leonard (at least the one the Toronto Raptors had). A two-way menace.

All of those could definitely be attributed to Barnes, who came into the 2021 NBA Draft as an intriguing prospect teeming with potential.

And now it’s safe to say that potential has been realized.

To say the Toronto Raptors are Barnes’ team is fair and the Pascal Siakam trade only confirmed who the Raptors wanted to build around. Toronto’s record may not be a sight for sore eyes, but the 22-year old’s growth since being selected with the fourth overall pick has been among the Raptors’ bright spots this season.

Numbers-wise, Barnes is having a career year across the board. Among his per-game averages this season, it’s easier to point out which figure fell (turnovers and fouls) than what went up (everything else) compared to last season. His efficiency hasn’t been compromised with the additional usage; it’s only made him a well-rounded player.

Scoring? That’s a given. Rebounding? Barnes doesn’t mind the dirty work. Dishing out assists? Toronto head coach Darko Rajakovic utilizes Barnes as a secondary ball handler and has no problems with him having the ball in crucial moments. Defending the team’s best player? Barnes was built for it.

In fact, Barnes was also the first player in his draft class to appear in an All-Star game, something he achieved last week.

Following the All-Star break, Barnes and the Raptors are 3-0 and the former Florida State Seminole has been on a tear. Facing the Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, and the Indiana Pacers, Barnes has had his fingerprints all over those victories.


Toronto’s win over the Pacers was a prime example of such, as Barnes finished with a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists. The five blocks only added credence to his two-way influence on the game, while his patience in running Toronto’s sets points to a maturity that will be vital for when the games get tougher.

The future looks bright for Barnes, and it’s not gone unnoticed. After the season, he will join Team USA for a shot to make the squad for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France. His skill set makes him not only an intriguing fit, but a potential need against bigger teams with sophisticated systems. If Barnes doesn’t make the cut, though, his time with the team will serve as a learning experience he can use for the next NBA season.

Have we seen the best of Scottie Barnes? That’s a clear no, since he’s not only years from turning 25, but he’s still figuring things out at this point. Of course, he’s already playing well despite that, and that’s a scary thought for everyone else outside of the Toronto Raptors organization.